Transforming Exercise From a Punishment to a Privilege

I used to hate to exercise. The sweating. The heavy breathing. The tired muscles. I hated it all. I didn’t understand why someone would purposefully put themselves through something like that.

Even in dance class and cheerleading practice I would try to find ways to get out of running before practice, or participating in bar work at ballet class.

Once I stopped participating in those fun extracurricular activities as I got older, I began to see exercise as a chore. I would go to the gym and attempt to run on the treadmill (like all the other girls were doing) and I absolutely hated it.

I felt like I needed to exercise just to burn calories. Exercise became the punishment that I had to put myself through for eating too much.

Then, I finally came to the realization that if I was ever going to make exercise a part of my life, I had to change my reason for doing it. I had to change my mindset about exercise.

Exercising just to burn calories does not have enough purpose for me.  If exercise continued to just be about burning more calories and losing weight, then it was never going to be something I wanted to do.

That was when I got involved in activities that I enjoyed again. Instead of forcing myself to do a certain exercise because I thought it was the “right way to exercise”, I started participating in activities I liked. Instead of exercising to reach some “magic number” on the scale, I began to exercise to improve the things I could do.

I began to fall in love with exercise. Each new accomplishment I saw in my body and my physical abilities made me push harder. I was able to run further, ski harder, climb higher. I was able to enjoy all the activities that I enjoyed without it feeling like “exercise”.

I still don’t subscribe to the “no pain, no gain” mantra of fitness. I don’t understand why exercise is looked at as a punishment for your body. Exercising is a privilege. It’s something you get to do to improve your lifestyle and your health.

Before, I was trying to exercise for the wrong reasons. Now, I exercise with purpose. My purpose is so that I will always be able to say “yes” to any exciting adventure that comes my way, without having to worry if my body is up for it.

I encourage everyone to find their purpose for exercise. It is the reason why you want to do it. If your purpose is not in the right place, it will continue to feel like a punishment rather than a privilege.


Lindsey Banks is a dancer, outdoor adventurer, fitness lover, and founder of Fit Life Pursuits. She has a passion for challenging women to create a happy and healthy lifestyle by making small changes, not big sacrifices. She helps women make fitness a part of their daily lives…while working full-time, or running a business, or raising a family, or traveling the world.

Website: BurnThis and Instagram username: @fitlifepursuits

Transforming Exercise From a Punishment to a Privilege

By BurnThis Ambassador Lindsey Banks